Two Poems


Plant Meat Rock Reef Rubble

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Plant Meat Rock Reef Rubble




Auger (excerpt)


“Auger” takes its title from Shell’s first deepwater play in the Gulf of Mexico (in partnership with BP)—drilling in 2,860 feet of water to a depth of 19,360 feet—in the mid-1990s. (With Deepwater Horizon, BP ultimately would drill in 4,000 feet of water to a depth of 35,055 feet.  New wells continue to be readied in the ultra-deepwater.) When superimposed over a photo of downtown New Orleans, a scale rendering of the tension-leg drilling platform used at Auger would dwarf the city.


Auger: “a large tool for boring holes deep in the ground”

Augur: “to foresee or predict,” from the Latin, “diviner”


Superimposing a transparency of the scale platform image on the poem, I bored a hole through the “Great Ocean” sequence of Pablo Neruda’s Canto General, as translated by Jack Schmitt—taking out a half inch right down the middle of each page. The words I had bored became the poem, “Auger”. Estimated at about 1,300 lines, the poem when assembled stretches 26 feet across my floor, a .13 to 100 scale rendering of the Augur well. 


In drilling Neruda, I hoped to hit pay at a certain depth. I am still trying to understand what it means to drill through that much water, that deep in the ground. I wanted to experience the pressure of the long poem, in a compressed period. And to communicate scale.


[The Polynesian sequence]


The Queen’s clogs
bring sweet attar
some effigies
in hand, dew of
Mangareva whose
hands aren’t
petals: look at these

shoots, over which
knots will weigh.

The same that falls,

water hardens
us, gently bearing
beneath the whole
of Iraq. So don’t let
man or the earthen
burning breasts in
your hair be my little
wet perfume.

Dream that you are
together, roots twine
earth and rain,
fire made of earth
with death, well
of the effigy
that brought us

iron, when

sea passed through,
and doubled your
tone. Sestina seeds

deep and naked for
the island: your bed,
love, hidden in
the sea’s movement.

To fall asleep
between your bra
with your nipples,
            Let’s rot
the sea: I bring
arctic whip
with oils and
whales of cries. I
canoe amidst
icebergs and
sea lions. Our
fire’s coals bone
endmost Mc-

descending from
the moon, a hard
glacial vapor.

Man who eyes
now and, oh
the waters!
your exile
drove you. Be
beyond Eve
unleashed, stem
out, ply US
solitudes, seize
our La Brea, yo!
from the sea:
our frazzled heart’s
credible fire.

Icy ass plant,
howling foamy
base of the
V, crustaceans
stirred by the
arctic dawn,
imaginary spleen
in the turbulence
burnt by 
ardent hands,
as waves
rupture, driving
wounded bears
into seashade’s
glacial plumes.

Icy austral crow
lamps, cinerary
earthly skin
city, open air nave,
cathedral of V
fighter of shattered
me dashed on the
urinal snow.

Me your double
invading solitude,
frying wind mass,
the corolla of a
white sinking
peaceful breast,
your rectangle of
writhing with a
spent matter, the
dude without alarm.
I of the harsh
eye, motionless I,
enemy of stars.

Are your round
Ocean’s resistences
hated? Their trans
salt filled you with
made cities, raised
spires of stalls, the V
of your salty pyrex.
Gwar, burned by

plashes, birthed
glacier vessels. Our
desolation endorsed
vineyards beneath the
Med, reserved for
snow’s springtime.